Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Seven, Issue One:

Turning Mistakes into Learning and Growth

Our newsletter appears approximately once a month. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being. Email: newsletter at


Mourn, Celebrate, Learn

by Peggy Smith

Several years ago my NVC teaching partner, Leah Boyd, participated in the Mediate Your Life program. It appeared to be a powerful learning experience and a support for her budding NVC-based mediation business. She brought one of the processes, "Mourn, Celebrate, Learn" to our Maine NVC Integration Program.

Over the years I have begun to use this process of Mourn, Celebrate, Learn when I have had an encounter in which I didn’t respond as open-heartedly as I yearn to. Last September I was at the NVC booth at the Common Ground Fair and surprised myself.

It was my third day at the booth. In the afternoon a woman stopped by and became quite interested in NVC. It turns out she runs a pre-school that focuses on care of the earth and each other. She expressed an eagerness to share information about NVC with the parents of her students.

Then the dialogue went something like this:

"Here is my rack card, the website is on there. It would be terrific if you would share it with them. I have a workshop coming up soon in your area."

"Oh. A website is so one sided. It’s not interactive. Facebook is much better. Then they can respond to you directly."

"I don’t do Facebook. I just don’t get how to use it."

"Well I have such success with Facebook. It’s really fantastic. It’s easy for the parents to respond to what I write. They love it."

"Yes, I get that it works well for you. That you like how easy it is for you to interact with your parents. Actually I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how to work with it. So I choose not to use it."

"You should do Facebook. Its really easy."

If I’d only caught myself right here – if I’d only really acknowledged to myself what was actually happening within me at this moment and held acceptance for myself and open-heartedness for her, I would not have responded as I did next. Something like:

"It's not easy for me, I just don’t understand it. And I’ve read that Facebook does psychological testing on its members without their knowledge, let alone permission, and I don’t want any part of that!"

"Well! I was only trying to be helpful!" She muttered as she walked quickly away shaking her head. I’m telling myself she lost her interest in NVC then and there.

It was her reaction to my statement that got my attention. I was a bit shocked and embarrassed that I was able to be so disconnecting while sitting at the NVC booth. My mind immediately went into self-defense: "Its been three days at the fair, I’m tired. I haven’t had a good night sleep in weeks – maybe months – with my mom being so close to death. If she only knew what I’m managing she could have been more accepting . . . blah blah blah." My mind was trying to justify my behavior. I could have spent hours, even days, in this mind loop.

Then I remembered Mourn, Celebrate, Learn. I took a few breaths and went through the steps (see box below).

Mourn, Celebrate, Learn: The Steps

The MCL (Mourn, Celebrate, Learn) process helps us to make good use of all our experiences, no matter how our minds might be judging them. Often we say or do things that don’t ultimately nourish needs. It can be minutes, hours, days or weeks before we realize that we’re carrying around uncomfortable feelings and self-judgments. Once we recognize these feelings and thoughts, we have the opportunity to get curious about what needs they are pointing to, and what circumstances seem to have stimulated them. Oftentimes we discover that we have acted in a way that did not produce outcomes we enjoyed. The good news is that we can start where we are.

The MCL process invites you to:

  1. Recall the incident and the details of what you said or did that you are not comfortable with.
  2. Recall the circumstances that triggered your action and allow the memory to guide you to the needs you were trying to nourish when you chose to do or say what you did or said.
  3. Allow yourself to MOURN how those actions didn’t nourish those needs.
  4. Tune into the beauty of those needs.
  5. Recall the incident again, this time considering anything that you did and said that you are comfortable with.
  6. Allow yourself to CELEBRATE that needs were nourished by those actions.
  7. Tune into the beauty of those needs.
  8. Now that you more fully understand the choices you made at the time, what did you LEARN? Are there any requests that you have of yourself? Are there any plans you’d like to make about how to support yourself in choosing differently in the future?

This exercise was developed by Leah Boyd, co-teacher of the Maine NVC Integration Program, inspired by the work of Ike Lasater & John Kinyon, Mediate Your Life

I mourned that I chose a form of education instead of empathic connection. I mourned that I chose to let my frustration and discomfort with social media influence my tone and energy while speaking. I mourned that I didn’t focus on her efforts to actually support NVC. I identified these needs as un-nourished in what I said: connection, consideration, interdependence, learning & growth, community, empathy, integrity, choice, shared reality, companionship, acceptance, to be seen for everyone’s true intentions, trust, tenderness, support, competence, visions & dreams, appreciation, and love. Wow, no wonder I was churned up inside. It’s painful when my choices leave so many needs in distress.

I celebrated that I was able to be at the fair and able to host the NVC booth. I celebrated how I had set the table up differently this year, in a more interactive way with NEEDS cards for people to explore and discuss. I celebrated a number of connecting conversations I had had over the three days. I celebrated how connecting my conversation was with this woman up to the point of discussing social media. The needs that were nourished in this experience: community, shared reality, support, visions & dreams, expression, honesty, understanding, meaning and purpose.

I ended up relishing the remembering that empathy is the connector! I made a request of myself. "Next time someone offers you advice and you notice you are tired or frustrated in receiving it, instead of countering with education (my usual habit), instead say (and mean), "Thank you. I’ll give that some thought."

I noticed a deep sense of relief within myself. I took a few moments to repeat my new go-to phrase: "Thank you. I’ll give that some thought." I could feel my body relax even more and a sense of calm fill the space that was full of justification just moments before.

I hope that woman stops back at the booth next year. I’m eager to engage with her again. And I’m grateful that Mourn, Celebrate, Learn has become a part of my daily practice. I don’t have to dread mistakes; I now know how to find the life enhancing energy within any choice.

Peggy Smith is dedicated to enhancing empathy skills within individuals and society. She is a certified trainer with the International Center for Nonviolent Communication. Peggy enjoys designing and implementing programs that support empathic thinking and communicating as part of systemic culture change.
Open Communication / Clarity Services

Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

Jan 14, 21 & 28, 2016, Auburn, ME
Clear Communication at Work

Three 4-hour sessions taught by Leah Boyd
To register call 755-5100


February 26- 28, 2016, Nobleboro, ME
Bringing Mindful Speech to Life

With Peggy Smith & Theodate Lawlor
A weekend of exploring Mindfulness, meditation and Nonviolent Communication
details and registration


Feb 25, Mar 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31, 2016, Turner, ME 
Clear & Compassionate Communication Level 1

Six evening sessions taught by Leah Boyd
FMI / registration: 207.225.3270 / MSAD 52 Adult Ed


February 26-28, 2016, Norway, ME
Clear & Compassionate Communication Level 1

  taught by Leah Boyd
Registration:  1-877-833-1372 / Peaceful Purpose


April 2-3, Bangor, ME
From Conflict to Connection, Level 1

Taught by Peggy Smith
This is a fundraiser for WERU Community Radio
details and registration


April 28, May 5, 12, 19, 2016, Turner, ME
Clear & Compassionate Communication, Level 2

Four evening sessions, taught by Leah Boyd
FMI / registration: 207.225.3270 / MSAD 52 Adult Ed


Registration is now open for the 2016-17 Maine NVC Integration Program
FMI, with link to registration form


back to top

Poetry Corner:

What if those people could stand on the shore watching their wake wash a bit of the shore away?
And what if each of us could stay put long enough to see the rippling trail of everything we did rolling out behind us?
What if we stopped long enough to see the long train of unintended consequences fan out from every innocently intended thing we did?
  – Stephen Jenkinson in Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul


Visit our Facebook page:

Nonviolent Communication, Mindfullness, Empathy and Presence







back to top



  • Monthly Empathy Circle:
    • Belfast, ME
      Second Friday of each month, 10am-1pm (formerly first Friday)
      Open Communication office, 243 High Street, Belfast
      You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand: Phone 207-322-2122 / email: chezcote5 at

    • Authentic Communication Groups
      Falmouth, ME

      with Andrea Ferrante, trainer and coach
      Two groups meet biweekly, one on alternate Wednesdays; the other on alternate Mondays.
      Authentic Communication Groups are coaching groups designed to open you up to an approach to living that offers greater peace, personal empowerment, and conscious connection to that which sustains and enriches life.

    • See also the Practice Groups page.


Do you want to receive emails about upcoming NVC trainings and other NVC events in and near Maine?

Join the Maine NVC Network
Yahoo Group

The group is moderated and is only used for announcements of regional workshops and other Maine NVC Network events. Inclusion in list serve announcements does not imply endorsement by the Network.

Paid Announcements

Clarity Services, LLC
Now Accepting Clients

Helping groups of people think together collaboratively and effectively
Free 30 minute initial consultation:
email: leah at


Open Communication

welcomes individuals and couples, who want NVC-based support, to meet with them at their new office in Belfast, ME
Please contact Peggy:
email: peggy at


Home  |  Newsletter Archives